A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is an occasional round up of everything our tech editors have gotten their hands on. Sometimes it's products we're doing long-term tests on, other times it's stuff we're stoked on but don't have time to fully review. And, sometimes it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
9Point8 Slack-R Kit
• Changes head angle by 1.2 - 1.7 degrees depending on bike • $99 USD
• Compatible with most tapered IS headsets • 9point8.ca
9Point8's Slack-R kit allows riders with tapered IS headsets (the type where the bearings sit directly in the frame) to hop on the slacker head angle train. Exactly how much the head angle will be reduced by depends on the frame dimensions, but the final amount will be between 1.2 - 1.7 degrees. It's also possible to install the cups in the reverse orientation, for riders looking to steepen up their head angle instead.
The Slack-R is now available for most IS headset dimension, including a recently added IS42 / IS52 option that's compatible with bikes from Orbea, Norco, GT, Scott, and others.
Installation is straightforward, and the driver needed to tighten the whole assembly down is included with the kit. Loctite and plenty of carbon fiber paste are key ingredients to help make sure things don't shift during installation, or creak out on the trail. Having a buddy to help hold the cups in place while they're being tightened down to 30Nm is also handy - otherwise it's a little tricky to keep everything perfectly aligned. You'll also need to measure your steerer tube to make sure it's long enough to accommodate the extra 20mm of space the Slack-R takes up.
$99 is a whole lot less than the price of a new bike, and a little head angle alteration may be the ticket to giving an older bike a new lease on life.
Giro Latch Shoes
• Mute Foam injection molded midsole • Tack Rubber outsole • Rockprint reinforced toe • 3D molded footbed
According to Giro, their new Latch shoes were developed to meet the requests of their athletes, who said they were getting bounced off their pedals on rough trails. Funny enough, that's exactly what I said when I reviewed the Riddance shoes a few years ago. The good news is that the Latch shoes seem sticky enough to keep both me and Aggy happy.
I only have a few rides in on them so far, which means it's much too early to comment on durability, but so far the fit has been very comfortable, and the stickiness is now in the realm of Five Ten and Specialized. That increased grip is thanks to a new rubber compound, and a tread design that has enough depth and space between the lugs to allow pedal pins to sit in between them. Giro also added a slow rebounding foam to the midsole that's intended to reduce the amount of vibrations that make it through the shoe.
Reserve Fillmore Tubeless Valves
The Fillmore tubeless valve's design is elegant in its simplicity.
Partially unthreading the aluminum cap makes it possible to let out small amounts of air at a time.
A wrench and a 2.5mm allen key are all that are needed for disassembly, but since the whole point of the design is to eliminate clogging that'll hopefully rarely be necessary.
• Fits rim depths between 18mm - 28mm • Lifetime warranty • Price: $49.99 USD
• 7000 series aluminum combined with a stainless steel internal rod • 3X airflow of standard presta valve • More info: reservewheels.com
I've been running Reserve's Fillmore valves for the last month, and as hard as that price tag is to swallow, they do work really, really well. The additional airflow when mounting a tire is noticeable, making it even easier to get everything up and running. Plus, if you're using a pump with a screw-on head, this design means that the valve core won't come unthreaded when you remove the pump, something that Lezyne pump owners will be glad to learn.
Yes, $50 is a lot of money for two tubeless valves, even ones made from 7000 series aluminum and a stainless steel inner rod. On the other hand, not needing to deal with gunked up, clogged valves is nice, and the additional airflow that the Fillmore valves allow does make seating tires even easier. In addition, these valves come with a lifetime warranty. It's also really easy to disassemble them should the need arise - there are wrench flats on the portion of the valve that sits in the rim, and a 2.5mm hex head on top of the internal rod that's used to unthread it..
Overall, the Fillmore valves are a clever solution to a problem most riders probably never thought about for all that long. I never really considered which valves were my favorites, up until now - that spot is currently occupied by the Fillmore.
Rapha Trail Pants
• Double weave nylon / elastane with DWR treatment • Rapha Repair Kit included • Sizes: XS - XXL
• Colors: Purple, black, green • $180 USD • rapha.cc
When I heard the news that Rapha was entering the mountain bike world I wasn’t sure what to expect. $300 skin-tight jerseys? Or maybe some fancy kneewarmers? It turns out that Rapha’s designers did their homework, and while the prices are still on the higher end of things they aren't wildly out of line compared to similar options. Plus, the fit and quality of the pieces I’ve tested has been excellent. Rapha also offers free repairs for the lifetime of a garment, and many of the items come with a repair kits to help reduce any potential down time.
According to Rapha, the new Trail Pants are intended for “all-round trail riding in cool conditions." The fit of the size medium has been excellent for my relatively slim, 5’11” height – they taper where they need to without being overly form-fitting, and there’s enough room to accommodate knee pads. There’s a zippered pocket on the side of each leg, both with enough room for a phone, along with additional two hand pockets. The fit can be fine-tuned via a cam strap on each side of the waist, and a keyhole metal snap helps ensure they won’t pop open at an inopportune time.
I’ve worn the Trail Pants on around a dozen rides, most of them wet and muddy, and so far they aren’t showing any signs of premature wear. On those drizzly, misty days the Trail Pants do a good job of keeping the occasional puddle splash or light rain from soaking through. For the fall temperatures I’ve been wearing them in the slightly thicker fabric has been ideal, just keep in mind that they run warmer than a thinner, DH-race style pant.